What Is SEO Website Design?

Jake Sheridan
Jun 18, 2021

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Search engine optimization, or SEO, is important to any company that has a website. Yet many online businesses might not realize that search engine optimization needs to be included in the foundational web design process – it needs to be built in from the beginning.

While some of the other aspects of SEO occur after a website has been published, such as high-quality content creation and backlink profile building, SEO website design happens at the birth of the website.

Here, we’ll take a look at what SEO website design is, why it is important and answer the most frequently asked questions surrounding SEO website design.

What Is Seo Website Design

In essence, SEO website design is creating a website that helps search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing) explore the entire website and understand what each individual web page is about.

Search engines rank websites according to content quality, relevancy and domain authority. The only way search engines know what is on your website is by ‘crawling’ each page on your site. Structuring your entire website for SEO is essential to performing well in search engines. This includes:

  • Your domain name
  • Your hosting strategy
  • Your content management system (CMS)
  • Your internal link hierarchy (or link structure)
  • URL formats

Using a website outline to plan your SEO design strategy is a great way to ensure you cover each of these aspects prior to fully launching your website.

Domain name

Your domain name is the first signal telling search engines (and customers) what your website is about.

Your domain name needs to be relevant to your business and make sense. Before launching your new website, carefully consider your domain name, as changing your domain name mid-SEO campaign will negatively impact your search engine rankings and organic search traffic volume.

Furthermore, consider your web domain with a fresh pair of eyes before purchasing it. A bad domain name can quickly turn your new website into a joke:

This example, speedofart.com, brings us to our next element of creating an SEO website – hosting.

Hosting strategy

Search engines want to send their users to the best websites on the internet.

This means sending them towards safe, trustworthy sites. Hosting your website on an unsecured platform (HTTP, instead of HTTPS) will result in a “Not secure” flag next to your URL in a users web browser.

Not only will this make your web traffic trust your website less (and possibly immediately click away), but search engines will also rank other secure websites higher than your own.

As of 2018, Google and Chrome started displaying this pop-up on websites that are non-HTTPS:

Where you host your website will also impact its loading speed – yet another crucial factor in determining a valuable user experience for users and a ranking metric used by search engines to sort the first-page worthy website from the rest.

Content management system (CMS)

A content management system is a software or an application that manages web content. The CMS allows your website administrators to create, publish, edit and store web content.

Websites use HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to create and design pages – but these languages need to be learnt to be understood.

Content management systems allow admins with no coding knowledge to handle and change web pages easily. Having a CMS that is easily crawled by search engines enables web admins and search engines to use the website effectively.

Link structure

Your internal links help users and search engines crawl your website to find the information they want.

This is what Google says about finding new pages:

“Google must constantly search for new pages and add them to its list of known pages. Some pages are known because Google has already crawled them before. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page.”

So, if you publish a new page on your domain and don’t link to it on your website, then Google won’t know it exists.

High-performing websites, such as Amazon, structure their internal links in a pyramid.

Doing so allows link equity and ranking power to flow throughout the entire site.

This internal link hierarchy increases each page’s ranking potential because it helps search engines determine where pages lie in the hierarchy.

For example, if you’re a physical store or business, the “location” page on your website is crucial – it shows your clients where you’re based. Having a proper link hierarchy such as our example ensures essential, but smaller pages like this don’t go unnoticed by search engines.

This kind of website structure also guarantees that no page goes unnoticed. By structuring your website with a clear hierarchy, Google and other search engines can easily crawl your website and find new material to rank, which is essential for a high-performing SEO website.

URL structure

Formatting your URL slugs (insert a link to what is a slug in SEO) with keywords further assists search engines in indexing and ranking your web pages.

Using this basic link format tells search engines where the link points to and matches keywords for that page.

Why is SEO Web Design Important?

SEO web design is important in that it enables website owners to perform well in search engine results pages (SERPs). Designing a website that is optimized for SEO means search engine algorithms are satisfied, and the website has the best chance of having a high online presence.

Performing well in search engines is essential because of the way people are using the internet.

Consider the following statistics:

  • Currently over 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide (Statista)
  • 93% of internet users start their internet session by asking a search engine a query
  • 70% of search engine users won’t click past the first page of results
  • 76% of website traffic lands on page by searching for keywords

Clearly, optimizing your website design for SEO is essential if you want to perform well in search engines and attract customers and clients to your online business.

SEO Website Design FAQ

What is SEO and how it works?

SEO is the process of optimizing a website for performance in search engines. Standing for search engine optimization, SEO involves creating SEO-friendly websites. This has many different facets, including:

  • SEO web design
  • On-page SEO
    • Keyword research
    • High-quality content
    • Page speed
    • Mobile-friendliness (looking good and performing well on mobile devices)
    • Responsive web design and engaging user experience
  • Technical SEO
    • Site architecture (link hierarchy and URL format)
    • Optimizing website plugins for analysis and performance
    • Keyword optimized file names
    • Alt tags for images (explaining what the image shows on the backend)
    • Meta tags, title tags, and meta descriptions that signify what a web page is about
  • Off-page SEO
    • Link building
    • Digital marketing (on social media, PPC strategies)
    • Content syndication (carefully creating and publishing duplicate content to earn backlinks)

Is SEO part of web design?

SEO, web design, and SEO web design are related but not the same.

As we have mentioned, SEO stands for search engine optimization and is the industry and practice of creating a website that performs well in Google rankings and other search engines.

Web design on its own is the process of creating an aesthetically pleasing, engaging, stimulating website that facilitates a seamless user experience and encourages users towards profitable action.

On the other hand, SEO web design is the technical structure of a website that needs to be optimized if that website is to do well in search engines.

Does Website Design Affect SEO?

Yes, the design of a website – both SEO design and aesthetical design – heavily influence how a website will perform in search engines.

As we’ve discussed, SEO web design helps search engines crawl and index a website, which is essential to ranking that website for keywords and in the correct niche.

The aesthetic web design of a website will determine how a user perceives that website – it will essentially determine a visitors user experience.

If a website is poorly designed, organic traffic will immediately leave the website, increasing the bounce rate and important SEO ranking factor. A high bounce rate means users don’t find your website useful, so they leave – bad for your SEO rankings.

However, suppose your website is well-designed with accessibility and usability as priorities. In that case, your organic traffic will likely stay on-site and engage with your material (provided you have written high-quality content).

Which website is best for SEO?

Determining the best web hosting platform for SEO depends on your goals for the website.

Basic web hosting platforms, such as WordPress, offer hosting and web design services that can certainly be optimized for performance in SEO. If you’re new to SEO and owning a website, then WordPress is a good choice.

However, if you plan to have a large enterprise-level website (link to What is an enterprise SEO article), larger hosting platforms like IBM and HostGator might be a better choice.

What is best for SEO is primarily determined by the administrators who are in charge of the website. At the beginning, design the website architecture with SEO in mind (as we have discussed in this article).

Then, work with either an SEO manager (link to article) or an agency to build your SEO strategy roadmap (free template in the link!). Over time, you’ll enjoy high rankings in search engines, increased organic traffic flow, and a high volume of customers visiting your website who are ready to buy what you’re selling.

Don’t forget: check out the other definitions (over 200) in our growing SEO glossary.


Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of SEO web design.

As you can see, SEO web design is a complex beast, and really, you need to get it right at the beginning of your website.

Unfortunately, many aspects of SEO website design cannot be undone – such as your domain name, CSS, and linking structure. This is why working with an SEO web designer from the beginning gives you the best opportunity for SEO success.

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

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Written by Jake Sheridan on June 18, 2021

Founder of Sheets for Marketers, I nerd out on automating parts of my work using Google Sheets. At Loganix I build products, and content marketing. There’s nothing like a well deserved drink after a busy day spreadsheeting.